Vettel joins Ferrari on three-year deal starting 2015

Ferrari has announced, just minutes after confirming Fernando Alonso's departure, that four-time champion Sebastian Vettel will replace the Spaniard.

The German will join the team for the 2015 season to partner Kimi Raikkonen on a three-year deal according to a statement from the Italian outfit on Thursday.

Team principal Marco Mattiacci believes Vettel is the perfect driver for Ferrari as they embark upon a fight to return to the front of the field.

"Scuderia Ferrari has decided to put its faith in the youngest multiple champion in the history of Formula 1," said Mattiacci. "In Formula 1 terms, Sebastian Vettel is a unique combination of youthfulness and experience and he brings with him that sense of team spirit which will prove invaluable when, together with Kimi, they tackle the challenges awaiting us, as we aim to be front runners again as soon as possible.

"With Sebastian, we all share a thirst for victory as well as enthusiasm, a strong work ethic and tenacity; key elements for all the Scuderia members to write together a new winning chapter in the history of Ferrari."

Vettel described the deal as a dream come true - the 27-year-old has never denied it's his lifetime ambition to drive for Formula 1's most famous team.

"The next stage of my Formula 1 career will be spent with Scuderia Ferrari and for me that means the dream of a lifetime has come true," he said.

"When I was a kid, Michael Schumacher in the red car was my greatest idol and now it's an incredible honour to finally get the chance to drive a Ferrari. I already got a small taste of what the Ferrari spirit means, when I took my first win at Monza in 2008, with an engine from the Prancing Horse built in Maranello.

"The Scuderia has a great tradition in this sport and I am extremely motivated to help the team get back to the top. I will put my heart and soul into making it happen."